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Major Trends in Modern Jewish Philosophy


Admission requirements

A global knowledge of modern philosophy and a working knowledge of the core notions in Jewish tradition are presupposed.
Knowledge of German is recommended, although English translations are available.


In the Enlightenment and its aftermath, tensions between Reason and Revelation, or between Philosophy and Tradition became acute. Jewish thinkers, like their Christian contemporaries, engaged in criticism of their religion. Some abandoned their faith; others attempted to create a synthesis between faith and reason. Spinoza, for example laid the foundation for biblical criticism, and Mendelssohn argued for the separation of church and state, each with its own area of responsibilities. The tensions brought on by modernity with its supposedly self-contained character continue to play a role in the writings of Jewish philosophers today.
In this course we will discuss six modern Jewish philosophers struggling to do justice to both their Jewish heritage and the demands of reason: Leo Baeck, Rosenzweig, Benjamin, Fromm, Hartmann, Levinas.

Course objectives

 This course aims to provide an introduction to the main issues and topics in modern Jewish philosophy through an in depth focus on six thinkers.
 Students will improve their capacity for reading primary philosophical and theological texts.
 Students will be stimulated to reflect on some essential themes concerning the relation between religion and reason as such.


h3. Mode of instruction

  • Seminar, with weekly assignments.

Assessment method

Each student will be expected to make a presentation during class as well as submit a final paper of 2500 words by June 30, 2014. Grades will be based on an evaluation of the presentation 30% and the paper 70%.


Balckboard will be used for providing texts, links and documents. Students will have to submit their assignments on blackboard.

Reading list

Gershon Greenberg, Modern Jewish Thinkers. From Mendelssohn to Rosenzweig, Brighton, MA, Academic Studies Press, 2011.


Via uSis
In addition to the registration in uSis, students are also expected to self-enroll in Blackboard a few weeks before the course starts.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration “A la carte onderwijs”

Registration “Contractonderwijs” via:


Extension of this seminar to 10 ects is possible. Please contact the course instructors.
MA-students who are interested can attend this seminar as well. Their work will be assessed on a MA level.